Toronto museums honour Toronto women

By Sean Delaney

This past month, Toronto History Museums launched new content for the City of Toronto HerStory program focusing on stories of powerful, change-making women past and present to celebrate International Women’s Day. This new content features Verna Patronella Johnston and Jean Lumb.

Verna Patronella Johnston was an Anishinaabe author, activist, mother, grandmother and mentor, known for her work in helping Indigenous youth adapt to life in the city. She built a strong presence in both her community of Cape Croker and Toronto. Verna was responsible for helping hundreds of Indigenous youth come to Toronto. She gave countless talks to businesses, community groups and organizations about Indigenous culture. She was a core volunteer in the emerging days of many Indigenous organizations in Toronto.

The first Chinese Canadian woman and first restaurateur inducted into the Order of Canada, Jean Lumb, advocated for the end of immigration policies that had separated families for decades. She campaigned to end the total erasure of Toronto’s first Chinatown and played a pivotal role in challenging immigration restrictions that prevented family reunification among Chinese Canadians separated by 24 years of exclusion. She was the only woman to participate in the delegation to Prime Minister Diefenbaker. In fighting racism and advocating for the self-representation of Chinese Canadians, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of cross-cultural connections and integration into Canadian life.

Discover more about Verna Patronella Johnston and Jean Lumb at:

Toronto History Museums’ HerStory content pays tribute to incredible women whose talents, skills, determination and perseverance have woven together a more equitable future for all. HerStory also currently features Salome Bey, E. Pauline Johnson and Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

On International Women’s Day, the city also recognized the achievements of Toronto filmmaker Domee Shi, who in March premiered her animated feature film “Turning Red” in Toronto. Domee Shi studied animation at Sheridan College, a program widely recognized as one of the best in the world, and has made Toronto the star of “Turning Red.”

She won an Oscar for her animated short film “BAO” in 2018 and is now the first woman ever to direct a Pixar feature.

International Women’s Day, observed annually on March 8, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.